Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Welcome to 2012-The year the world doesn't end and Uganda turns 50.

The new year is already 3 days old but I think it is still young enough for me to wish everyone a happy new year. Like all brand new years, 2012 is walking briskly along with a purposeful stride and an air of invincibility thinking it cannot do worse than 2011. However, this elation will not last and everything will soon get back to normal, which is not necessarily a good thing because normal for Ugandans means ever increasing fuel prices (with the accompanying price increments in nearly everything else), higher interest rates on bank loans, politicians stealing billions, et cetera. I could go on but what's the point, there will be enough of this in everyone's life during the course of the year. I don't need to labour the point. Besides there are people better placed than me to make predictions,  like the opinionated Mr. Kalyegira does here, or give analyses on what to watch out for.

However, there is one thing I am very certain of, and that is, that the world is not ending this year contrary to what ancient Mayans might or might not have predicted for the year 2012 or what The Red Pepper will inevitably dedicate miles of newsprint to. This year is going to be ordinary in many ways but for some of us it will be a special one because.....

2012 is the year Uganda turns 50.

I can already hear people saying "who gives a damn" or "how does that help me?" and I understand the average Ugandan's nonchalance towards independence anniversaries. Independence does not mean much to most Ugandans because only a small portion of us ever lived under colonial rule (and some who did wish things had never changed) and the difficult lives most Ugandans live have effectively immunised them of sentimentality and yet sentiments are what such jubilee celebrations appeal to. They aim to rekindle the pride of a people; engender patriotic fervour and cause the poets to writes odes to the nation's heroes and the people to break out in song and exalt the great legendary leaders that fought against the marauding hordes of foreign invaders and.. and....OK maybe I am getting carried away here but that is impression I get whenever I see independence jubilee celebrations of other countries on TV. Unfortunately, it appears Uganda does not really have anything of the sort make a big deal of. We had a pretty tame colonial experience (compared say to Kenya or Zimbabwe), the post colonial experience has not left us much to celebrate and these days NRM has kind of appropriated for itself any gains Uganda has made over the past 49 years so that any independence day celebration is indistinguishable from an NRM anniversary.

However, all hope is not lost and two initiatives by The New Vision and The Monitor called the Uganda Jubilee Project and Uganda@50 respectively hope to get as many Ugandans as possible involved in the jubilee year by sharing that which they feel they ought to celebrate or be proud of about Uganda as it turns 50 as opposed to the same old parades, boring slogans and speeches that are imposed on us every year. Because I feel we as Ugandans ought to make this anniversary one worth celebrating I will be monitoring how these two projects progress and giving my two cents worth every now and then. This kind of anniversary ought to be the kind of thing that should (if only temporarily) get most Ugandans thinking of themselves as a diverse group of people with a common stake in this project called Uganda that requires everyone's contribution if its to succeed.

Maybe I expect to much and I am making a fuss over nothing but I will see how the year progresses and I will keep dropping my two cents worth every now and then.

Happy New Year once more.

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